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Nutter Administration To Appeal Ruling Against Lap Dance Tax

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A meeting of the Tax Review Board at City Hall last year as two strip clubs challenge the city's tax on lap dances. (Credit: Mike Dunn)

A meeting of the Tax Review Board at City Hall last year as two strip clubs challenge the city’s tax on lap dances. (Credit: Mike Dunn)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Mayor Nutter is not taking his loss in the great ‘lap dance tax battle’ sitting down. The Administration has decided to appeal the Tax Review Board’s ruling that such a tax is out of bounds.

The Nutter Administration is trying to slap the city’s amusement tax on the lap dances performed at three strip clubs, billing them hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes, interest and penalties.

Last month the city’s Tax Review Board — made up of mayoral appointees — shot down the idea (see related story). They ruled that the amusement tax law is so vague that it can only be reasonably applied to a club’s cover charge, not to back room activities.

But the battle goes on. Attorney George Bochetto, representing two of the clubs, is fuming, “I view it as nothing but a strong arm attempt by the city administration to try to economically plow under these particular establishments with the threat of ongoing litigation — and the legal fees that are incurred in that — to try to bring them to their knees!”

Club Risque and Cheerleaders, represented by Bochetto, faced bills totaling nearly $900,000.  Delilah’s, represented by attorney Stephen Howard, was assessed more than $630,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties for lap dances.

The mayor’s top attorney, Solicitor Shelley Smith, says the city will appeal because the amusement tax law does not exclude activities at such clubs.

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